Following a 3-2 overtime defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings in a Wednesday head-to-head at TD Garden, even Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had to admit that he may have officially seen enough preseason hockey.
Behind the bench for one of the sloppier games September has to offer, Cassidy noticed that his team was frustrated with the subpar ice conditions thanks to an unseasonably humid day, and the bouncing pucks and choppy strides that came as a result. And ultimately working from behind more than they would have liked, especially for a group featuring a maddening mix of players either working their way back from injury or participating in their first game since the team’s China trip.
“A lot of it is some of the guys tonight haven’t played a lot, so I think they’re still a little bit in circling mode and not detail mode, so we’ll have to address that. So that was certainly part of it,” said Cassidy. “I think we tried to be too cute. We all saw that. We don’t have to go down the list of which guys you’re just going to have to get her squared away here shortly. But listen, I have faith in those guys. It’s just they have to acknowledge where they’re at and start digging in.”
Following a scoreless first period, the Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 behind two goals in just under four minutes, the first of which coming off a brilliant deflection from David Pastrnak, and the second off a power-play snipe from Lee Stempniak.
But on the fourth and fifth power-play attempts of the night, the Red Wings finally responded, with goals from Gustav Nyquist and Dennis Cholowski, tallies that were separated by just 4:52 of action.
And following a scoreless third, it was to a three-on-three overtime the Bruins went, and with the Wings’ Filip Zadina burning the Bruins just 24 seconds into overtime for the game-winning tally against Jaroslav Halak.
But it was yet another strong showing for the 33-year-old Halak, as he kept the Bruins in this game in a shooting gallery first period, and stopped 33-of-36 shots in loss, which saw his preseason save percentage ‘dip’ to .924 for the month.
“I think right now I think it’s more important to get really good practices in and work on the little things,” Halak said. “But we still have time, one more game, plenty of practices, and we just have to get ready for the season, that’s the bottom line.”
Seven games has been enough of a sample size for Cassidy to make his determinations on several B’s hopefuls and mainstays alike, but the coach did acknowledge that he’d like to see his centers back for Saturday’s finale.
“There’s still guys here competing for spots, but by the same token again we’re hoping to be closer to our lineup down the middle,” Cassidy said of the club’s looming eighth and final preseason game of the month. “[David Krejci] was out tonight, [Sean] Kuraly skated, [Patrice Bergeron] skated. We’d like to get that, those three centermen involved, move Noel [Acciari] into the middle the next game and see what it truly looks like down the middle because we haven’t had much, so that’s the good reason to have the last game for sure, to get those guys in the game.
“Hopefully they’re ready to play, and we’re going to have to make some decisions after [Wednesday] with the young guys. We’ve played them a lot, and if we have our full group then, you know. Yeah, the one game will certainly be advantageous for some. Hopefully, the other guys take it as a work project to get ready for [next] Wednesday.”
The Bruins will have a scheduled day off tomorrow.